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by C. Asaravala. Photography by Neef Gilbert

It was the eighties, not the seventies or sixties, which were the greatest years for muscle cars. The cars of the late '60s and '70s were turning ten-plus years old and hitting peak depreciation. Add to this the emerging fuel crisis and emissions laws, and you had low demand for an abundance of used Detroit iron. The high-school students of the 80's, whether forced into these cars by desire or by affordability, would be the biggest contributors to muscle car culture as we know it today.

Take Tim Gilbert for instance. Fresh out of high-school in 1981 he bought a 1968 Torino for a mere $400. The 390 FE equipped formal hardtop set the wheels in motion for Tim to own a variety of Torino's over the next 26 years.

Fast forward to 2004. Tim, now an aerospace engineer in Southern California, has never quite found the one Torino he's always been after - a factory big block 4-speed 1970 GT. He desires the GT over the more sought after Cobra because in Tim's eyes, the SportsRoof body and GT options make the most aggressive looking Torino produced. In his quest to find this car he ponders why Ford never put the Boss 429 motor in the Torino. The closest they got was the 1969 Torino Talledega built for NASCAR, however the production versions only came with 428 Cobra Jet engines. Somewhere in this day dream Tim decides he should build the Boss Torino that Ford never did.

Not before long Tim and his father are driving from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City to pick up the starting materials: one 1970 Torino GT 'J' code (see sidebar). It's an original 429 4-speed car, and the perfect candidate for his Boss Torino concept.

The $6500 final price for the Torino may be the cheapest invoice in the Boss Torino project file. Three years later Tim is somewhere in the $40,000 range in labor and parts - a number he reluctantly tallied only upon our request. The Boss Torino project is well beyond the halfway point now, and this is where we pick up the story. We aren't writing this story as a how-to, because this really isn't a project many, or any, of us would ever take on. However we do write it from a journalistic viewpoint because, while big-budget cars are created all the time, the effort and story behind them is rarely documented. It's history in the making, and if anything we can all gain some inspiration from it. So follow along over the next several months as we see Tim Gilbert's Boss Torino dream come to fruition.

1970 Torino GT
Ford produced three distinct generations of the Torino between 1968 and 1976 and fans align themselves respectively. The '68 and '69 years emulated the Fairlane body style from which the model evolved. In 1970 and 1971 the body style changed dramatically with a more aggressive profile. It's these two years that many argue are the most aggressive looking. The full-framed Torino's from 1973-1976 shared some of the previous generation's styling cues, but tend to have a fan base solely dedicated to this era of Torino.

The hideaway headlights made the 1970 Torino GT look purely demonic. Surprisingly this grill style was only available on wagons, Brougham edition, and the GT models. The Cobra received standard round head lights.

The "SportsRoof" body style and single tail-light panel carry the menacing image through to the rear of the car. We like how the bumpers are also tightly integrated into the body lines.

Tim tackled the suspension first. He lowered the car nearly 2" around using custom coil springs from Deaborn Classics.

While the body appears fairly straight, Tim said that one of the previous owners had taken a sledge hammer to the wheel wells in attempts to fit bigger tires. The dents were concealed with Bondo.


Teardown

Tim's dad had an F150 so together they made the journey into Americas Heartland to pick up the car. Tim says though the car was rough, it got plenty of looks on the drive home. Note the gas prices in late 2004 - the dollar-eighty range!
 
Even the high-performance Torino came with a lack luster dash. Tim installed a tachometer to keep an eye on the rpms, but plans call for installation of a gauge cluster from a 1970 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler. They came with functional tach, speedo, oil and water gauges.
     

Back in his garage Tim began the tear down process. The car was originally red. The floor pans were in surprisingly good shape for the Oklahoma car.
 
One of Tim's criteria in searching for a Torino GT was that all of the sheet metal had to be original and in decent shape. Tim says the only sheetmetal he had to replace was the hood and the front right fender extension.
     

The rust damage on the car wasn't all that bad considering the cars origin. Perhaps Oklahoma is OK after all.
 
The severity of the damage inflicted by the previous owners' attempts to make room for bigger tires can be seen here. "And this is the good side," Tim told us.
     

With the Torino striped to it's skeleton, you can bet Tim was wondering just how deep he'd gotten himself into. As he puts it, "If Jay Leno says he's the President of the More Money than Brains Club, I must be the Executive VP."
 
Stripped down to a rolling shell the Torino is ready for it's first stop, Dan Fink Metal Works in Huntington Beach. It's now early 2006.


Continue - Body Work
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In This Article:
If Ford had built a Boss Torino what would it look like? FM begins coverage of one man's quest to build this car. Follow Tim Gilbert's no holds barred resurrection of a 1970 Torino GT with a Boss 429 engine.


Tim Gilbert standing next to the Boss 429 he found on eBay. The final bid was ten-grand. Tim says the motor had unmatched heads (C9 and D0 castings) but in perfect shape. He'll replace the bottom end with a 460-based stroker. We'll cover that build in the next issue.

 

Tim located the rare 1970 Torino GT in Oklahoma City. The 'J' code meant a 429 Cobra Jet and Shaker hood. Plus this car was optioned with a 4-speed manual. Marti report suggests only 412 GT's were made with this combo. In contrast over two thousand Cobra's were produced with this setup.
 

Most folks would be quite content with the factory specified 429 cubic inches, rated at 370 horsepower. But when you are fulfilling a dream there is no lack of creativity (and apparently no lack of funds either.) Tim has purchased an original Boss 429 motor for this project.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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